Tango your way to better balance

Created date

October 25th, 2016
Couple dancing the tango

Scientists from Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Neurological Institute have found that people with peripheral neuropathy can tango their way to better balance.  

Peripheral neuropathy causes numbness, tingling, and sometimes pain in the arms or legs because of nerve damage. Studies show that the prevalence of peripheral neuropathy among seniors ranges from about 25% to 55%. These estimates include people who do not have a related disease process. Neuropathies can occur as a result of a number of conditions, including diabetes, trauma, systemic neurological conditions, and cancer treatment. A loss of balance can result, which puts people at an increased risk of falls. 

Argentine Tango

About 70% of cancer patients treated with chemotherapy will have some degree of peripheral neuropathy as a side effect. Thus, the Ohio State researchers recruited cancer patients for the tango program. These patients took classes in Argentine Tango, which is the form most people are familiar with. Dance educators and physical medicine specialists designed an adapted form of the dance, and patients participated in one-hour sessions twice a week for ten weeks. 

To determine the program’s effectiveness, researchers evaluated the patients’ balance before and after the dance series. Preliminary results showed that balance was significantly improved just halfway through the series. In addition, patients reported that the sessions were enjoyable and seemed easier than physical therapy. 

The researchers say this study provides the first known evidence that cancer survivors find Argentine Tango an effective and enjoyable way to improve neuropathy-related balance. They hope these results will help stimulate research into similar interventions for neuropathy.